Representatives from Halifax’s QRA Corp., Lockheed Martin and Dalhousie University gathered this week to celebrate the commercialization of a technological collaboration that began as a theoretical quantum physics research project in 2008, and also to announce more than $6 million for new projects with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, including a recently announced $2 million contract for Project QVscribe.
QRA Corp. co-founder and CEO Jordan Kyriakidis, a physics professor at Dalhousie University back in 2008, agreed to participate in a $2 million agreement signed between Dalhousie University and Lockheed Martin, which slowly transformed from a project involving the development of quantum physics algorithms into a commercially viable method for detecting errors and verifying complex engineering systems, from autonomous cars to smart homes to advanced aircraft.
That initial investment allowed Kyriakidis and his research associates the freedom to explore what he refers to as “pie in the sky” theoretical issues relating to quantum physics.
“From a theoretical quantum physics project at Dalhousie University, to announcing major contracts with leading engineering innovators such as several of the world’s leading systems integration engineering firms – I’m incredibly proud of QRA and what we are celebrating at this event,” said Jordan Kyriakidis, QRA Corp Co-Founder and CEO. “The future is looking bright as we’ve doubled annually for the past 3 years with this year looking like no exception, and we are happy to see an outstanding reception of our new publically available requirements analysis tool, QVscribe.”
QRA Corp. was founded in 2013, on the basis of Kyriakidis and his team’s research initiatives with Lockheed Martin.
The company now employs 16 people, half of whom are Dalhousie graduates and includes chief operating officer Alex McCallum, who moved to Halifax from Waterloo, Ontario and now leads business development and global sales for QRA.
QRA specializes in systems and requirements engineering technology, and QVscribe enables engineers to analyze requirements documents directly within Microsoft Word, and repair vulnerabilities in order to avoid expensive and painful reworking.
Errors in systems development can cause project delays and reworks, or potentially catastrophic test failures for safety-critical systems, whether spacecraft or autonomous vehicles, and are usually introduced through poorly written or ambiguous requirements documents.
“We are pleased to see that our Industrial and Regional Benefit into Dalhousie research has produced significant and tangible results,” said Charles Bouchard, Chief Executive Lockheed Martin Canada. “The commercialization of this research is an excellent example of how collaboration between academia, government and the private sector can transform ground-breaking research into technological advances in the aerospace industry and potentially other industries, creating the opportunity for lasting business growth in the Canadian economy.”
QVscribe is QRA Corp’s second major technology development alongside QVtrace, a systems verification tool already in use by engineering teams within the aerospace and defence industry.
Combining recent advances made in Natural Language Processing and machine learning with objective metrics developed by organizations such as NASA and IEEE to create tools for engineers handling requirements, QVscribe will assist engineers with authoring, editing, and verifying the consistency of natural language requirements, as well as translating these into formal specifications – allowing for integration and analysis with system design verification tools.
“QRA is an excellent example of how Dal researchers can turn innovative ideas into economic opportunity,” said Dalhousie President Richard Florizone. “It’s also proof of the power of industry and government partnerships to make an impact regionally, nationally, and internationally.”